Oklahoma Executes Man Using Method That Led To Multiple Botched Killings

by | Aug 25, 2022 | Politics

Oklahoma executed 50-year-old James Coddington on Thursday morning, marking the state’s first killing since a federal judge allowed it to continue using a lethal injection method that has resulted in several botched executions.Before he was killed, Coddington was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the state’s lethal injection protocol, which is currently under appeal. Even as the case moves through the appeals process, Oklahoma is pushing to execute 24 more people over the next two years. The litigation centers around the question of whether the lethal three-drug cocktail used in Oklahoma violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.AdvertisementThere is ample evidence that it does. Autopsies of people killed in this way show signs of pulmonary edema, a condition where the lungs fill with fluid, which can create the sensation of drowning or suffocating. Experts for the state argued at trial that a sedative used in the lethal injection prevents individuals from feeling pain, but there are signs suggesting otherwise. John Grant, the first person executed in Oklahoma after a yearslong moratorium on the killings, lifted his back off the gurney, vomited and convulsed after being injected with the drugs.“If we saw this in a patient in the operating room — I can’t imagine seeing it, but if we did — we would assume that the patient was awake, and we would do something about it,” Gail Van Norman, a professor of anesthesiology and a witness for the plaintiffs, testified at trial. U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot ultimately sided with the state, as the courts often do in cases involving methods of execution. He acknowledged that many individuals executed with Oklahoma’s method experience pulmonary edema and that the sedative used to block them from feeling pain was “not the drug of choice for maintaining prolonged deep anesthesia.” But it was good enough, Friot decided, and Oklahoma could get back to killing those on death row. Coddington was executed as punishment for killing his friend Albert Hale while under the influence of drugs and deep in a struggle with addiction. He quickly confessed to the crime, expressed remorse and even contemplated forgoing a trial until a lawyer convinced him otherwise. He demonstrated model behavior while incarcerated on death row, maintaining his sobriety and earning rare privileges like communal recreation time and the opportunity to complete his GED diploma.Advertisement“I can’t apologize enough for what I did,” Coddington said at his clemency hearing earlier this month. Hale “was one of my friends, and he tried his best to help me,” Coddington continued.The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 to recommend that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt reduce Coddington’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. …

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